Apartment complexes can be held liable for accidents that happen due to unsafe railings on staircases and balconies on their property. Here's how:
If you have been injured at an apartment complex due to a defective railing or banister, whether you can recover any damages from the complex owner is reliant upon your status as a visitor. Your status determines what standard of care the apartment complex owes you. The greater standard of care the complex owes you, the greater chance you have of recovering for your injuries.
How Do I Know What My Status Is?
Your status is what largely determines whether you have a valid claim against the apartment complex. As a result, correctly determining your status is very important and can ultimately affect whether you win or lose your claim. The highest status that a plaintiff can claim is that of invitee.
An invitee is someone who is on the property for business purposes. If you are on the property of an apartment complex as a prospective renter, or an employee, you are legally considered an invitee. You are there solely for business and would not be on the property otherwise.
Also, if you are currently renting a unit at the apartment complex you are likely to be considered an invitee; however, the complex will definitely try to convince the court that you are a mere licensee. In this event you will need a strong attorney who is very knowledgeable about property law and can help you fight this affirmative defense.
If you are a licensee you are simply on the property because you are permitted. This might mean that you were invited by someone who lives there or you are a door-to-door sales person.
The last classification is called a trespasser. A trespasser is any person who is wrongfully on the property.
What Duty Does the Apartment Complex Owe Me?
As an invitee the apartment complex owes you the greatest standard of care. The property owner is required to inspect the property for any dangerous conditions and expected to discover any hazards that might cause you harm. The apartment complex would also be required to repair any dangerous conditions or somehow eliminate the hazard. Therefore, if the complex fails to adequately repair a defective railing in the stairwell and you are injured they may be liable for your damages.
For example, say you work at an apartment complex. You are considered an invitee and the complex owes you the greatest duty. If you are walking down a stairwell and the railing breaks lose causing you to fall and get hurt, the complex will likely be required to pay you for your injuries.
However, if you are merely a guest of someone who lives at the Gables, then you are considered a licensee. If you are injured due to this same defect they may not be required to pay you any damages as long as the defect was obvious. You are simply on the property at your own risk and they are not automatically responsible for any injuries you suffer on the property.
Finally, if you are a trespasser the complex owes you the lowest standard of care. While there are exceptions, if you are injured due a defective railing on the property the owner will generally not be liable for your damages.
What if the Apartment Complex Knew About the Defective Condition and Intentionally Concealed it?
If this type of scenario occurs the apartment complex will most likely owe you for your injuries since they concealed a dangerous defect. Remember, even if you are trespasser the property owner still owes you a standard duty of care to prevent you from being injured by defects and dangers that are not obvious. If they intentionally covered up the defects the apartment complex will probably be found liable to you. By covering up the defect they increased your chance of not discovering the hazard and they automatically increased your chances of being injured.
If you have been injured due to a property defect at an apartment complex, our attorneys at Grossman Law Offices may be able to help you. Our attorneys are very experienced and have been helping victims like you since 1990. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your claim. To set up an appointment to meet with one of our personal injury attorneys, call Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000.